China, Taiwan eye each other through film as ties warm

Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:02am EDT
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By Ralph Jennings

TAIPEI (Reuters Life!) - The Chinese comedy "If You Are the One" has earned $50 million at the box office so far, the second highest grossing in China's film history, but it's showing for free this week in ethnically Chinese Taiwan.

Taiwan and China have been separated for decades over political friction but as relations improve under Taiwan's Beijing-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou, each side is suddenly scoping out the other's films this summer to learn a bit more.

"Some China films show modern life while some are shot way out in the countryside, so lots of angles and the Taiwan audience can get to know China better," said Ma Kuo-chun, project manager with the private Chinese Cross-Strait Film Association in Taipei.

"But there's still no formal platform for showing films."

The association, backed by Taiwan government money, will test reactions by holding its first annual China film festival this week, offering seven movies and the chance to see three Chinese directors for about 4,000 people. Tickets are free.

"I would welcome this chance as we get closer politically," said Chang Tung-yuan, a film student at Shih Hsin University in Taiwan. "At least our films are in the same language."

The festival headliner "If You Are the One," from director Feng Xiaogang, reveals quirks in China's social modernization, a trend lost on many in Taiwan, by following a middle-aged man seeking love but too picky to tolerate even a hint of incompatibility.

Chinese directors made 406 films in 2008, setting a record, with urban box office revenues worth hundreds of millions of dollars, state-run media in Beijing have reported.   Continued...